VIDEO: Door County’s Cherry Orchard History

Joseph Zettel began planting cherry trees in Door County in 1896, and the bright fruit has been synonymous with Door County ever since.

His trees thrived, and soon did thousands of acres of them up and down the peninsula, becoming as much a symbol of the region as lighthouses and shoreline. Learn why cherries thrive in Door County’s shallow soils and cool air, and how farmers first brought fruit-growing to this narrow sliver of land.

You’ll hear the story of an often-forgotten blip in the industry’s past when German Prisoners of War saved the cherry crop during a labor shortage at the end of World War II, and the days when young boys flocked to Egg Harbor for “cherry camp” each July. The history of cherries in Door County goes far beyond pies and desserts to an emotional connection that spans generations.

For decades thousands of workers were imported to the Door from Texas, Mexico, Jamaica, and Haiti to bring in the harvest, bringing their cooking, language, and culture to local residents and workers. That ended when technological advances made picking easy, but versions of those early experiences still evoke feelings in locals and visitors alike.

Meet the people keeping cherry traditions alive, and get a look at new innovations taking the industry into a new era.


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